The stalwart Toyota 4Runner has changed very little since its debut in 2009. With virtually no mechanical changes, only technology enhancements and features have kept the 4Runner relevant. Despite this, it continues to be a hot commodity. Capitalizing on the 4Runner’s long-winded success, Toyota has introduced a new trim for 2022, the TRD Sport. Combining the value of the SR5 trim with the advanced suspension previously only available on the Limited trim, the TRD Sport is a road-ready 4×4. We took our Army Green 4Runner TRD Pro on an Upstate, NY farm tour to experience its back road prowess and four-wheel-drive capability.
Unlike the rock-crawling TRD Pro and all-terrain TRD Off-Road, the TRD Sport focuses on being the best 4Runner for the road. The TRD Sport is distinguishable with its non-functional TRD-style hood scoop and color-keyed front grille accents in place of the Limited’s chrome accents. Both trims feature machine-faced 20″ wheels with all-season tires, hinting at their road-going focus. They also share the same interesting raked stance. The TRD Sport adopts the Limited’s Cross-Lined Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) suspension. The two key features of the X-REAS system are the adjustable damping force of the shock absorbers and the center control absorber. The system cross-links the shock absorbers on opposite corners of the 4Runner to offset the opposing inputs. By offsetting the opposite corners, like an X, the 4Runner TRD Sport’s body motions are better controlled. Imagine turning into a tight corner – the outside front wheel receives a large amount of the weight transfer. The X-REAS system reacts by stiffening that shock absorber and softening the opposite rear and allowing the body to stay more level.
Across the winding back roads of Upstate, NY, I quickly realized this is the best-handling Toyota SUV I’ve ever driven. Not only is the ride softer and more refined, the body roll is nearly eliminated in normal driving. Having owned an FJ Cruiser, a close relative to the 4Runner, for over 6 years, I thought I knew what to expect. The TRD Sport exceeds expectations by bringing Lexus GX levels of ride refinement to a very capable and affordable platform. For 2022, all 4Runner trims now have standard LED high beams to go along with the rest of the standard LED lighting. They also are equipped with Rear Occupancy Alert as new standard safety feature. Our tester also came with the optional Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert features as part of the Technology Package. Along with the standard 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 4Runner has stayed technically relevant. But that’s about as much relevancy as the 4Runner can muster.
2009 was a long time ago – a time when a 5-speed automatic transmission was commonplace. Now though, the 4Runner’s 5-speed feels woefully inadequate. Long gears and slow shifts make the 4Runner feel like the old car that it is. Transmission aside, the 4.0L V6 producing 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft. torque can still motivate the SUV along. As we’ve said before, it feels more powerful and responsive than the 3.5L found in the Tacoma. Ultimately, the 4Runner’s drivetrain is heavier, less powerful, and less efficient than anything else in its class. In our week of testing, the 4Runner TRD Sport returned 17.9 MPG.
The 4Runner’s endurance in one of the market’s hottest segments is a testament to its capability, reliability, and affordability. With safety features and technology enhancements added over the years to keep it up-to-date, the tried and true 4×4 platform continues to win over buyers. The new TRD Sport trim brings a level of refinement and comfort to the 4Runner at a lower price-point than the Limited trim from which it is derived. For me, the TRD Sport was the perfect companion to meander the countryside.
|Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Sport||$42,025|
|Premium Audio w/ 8″ Touchscreen||$1,585|
|Automatic Running Boards||$1,500|
|Roof Rack Cross Bars||$185|
|High Performance LED Fog Lights||$169|
|Keep It Wild Savings||($500)|
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Categories: Christopher Little, Driven, Toyota
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